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Raising teacher education and training standards for universal preschool in California: Assessing the size of the task

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Whitebook, Marcy; Bellm, Dan; Sakai, Laura; Kipnis, Fran; Voisin, Irene & Young, Marci
Publication Date: 
1 Jan 2004

Available in print for order (see SOURCE) and online for download.

Excerpts from paper:

The creation of a universal preschool system for California has become the focus of much of the current long-range planning and discussion in the state about the quality and availability of early care and education programs.

Universal preschool for California is still in its early planning phase, most of the details remain to be decided, including the scope and structure of the program, whether or not it will be coordinated by the public schools, where it will be housed, whether it will be full-day or part-day (with or without wrap-around care), the extent to which it will include family child care, and whether it will be free of charge or based, at least in part, on parent fees. But the state Master Plan for Education, as well as many proponents of universal preschool, appear to agree thus far that "raising the bar" on the required level of education and training for preschool teachers will be an essential building block of the program

While standards and compensation are often discussed as separate topics, they are really interdependent, and publicly supported preschool offers an opportunity to confront both challenges hand in hand, so that professional development is directly tied to a coherent wage and career ladder, and an equitable compensation package is incorporated into a state's "price tag" of what a universal preschool system will truly cost. This is largely a question of resources and public will. We can set preschool teacher standards at the BA level, but unless we put together the resources to make educational opportunities available to current and prospective teachers, clarify what are the optimal characteristics of preschool teacher training, and compensate teachers sufficiently to retain them in the field, the question of higher standards will remain an academic one, and preschool could continue to be a stepchild of our educational system.